Here is my review of A Strange and Stubborn Endurance by Foz Meadows – a queer, romantic fantasy
Velasin vin Aaro never planned to marry at all, let alone a girl from neighboring Tithena. When an ugly confrontation reveals his preference for men, Vel fears he’s ruined the diplomatic union before it can even begin. But while his family is ready to disown him, the Tithenai envoy has a different solution: for Vel to marry his former intended’s brother instead.
Caethari Aeduria always knew he might end up in a political marriage, but his sudden betrothal to a man from Ralia, where such relationships are forbidden, comes as a shock.
With an unknown faction willing to kill to end their new alliance, Vel and Cae have no choice but to trust each other. Survival is one thing, but love—as both will learn—is quite another.
A Strange and Stubborn Endurance by Foz Meadows was one of my anticipated reads of 2022 as I enjoy books with intrigue, fantasy, magic and very occasionally a bit of romance and this book seemed to have it all. But I have to admit to feeling a little disappointed.
This book is more romantic fantasy with a hint of intrigue and magic While the growing romance between Caethari and Velasin is lovely to read, I wasn’t expecting this to be the main focus of the book.
Vela is the first-person narrator alternating with Cae’s third-person point of view- both characters develop naturally as the story progresses. The friendship between Cae and his valet and friend Markel who has mutism is one of the most heart-warming relationships in the book. There is a range of strong, interesting women of all ages as secondary characters.
The world-building is interesting especially Tithenian social structure and their descriptions of gender and inheritance. The magical system and political system also felt interesting but unfortunately, this is hardly explored especially the intriguing aspect of why a progressive society has a negative attitude toward magic.
I thought the sexual assault ( this is right at the start of the book and the content warning is made very clear at the start of the book) at the start of the book was a bit too graphic. The book does describe Vela’s difficulty dealing with the aftermath of this assault and the consequences of this brutal act which is difficult to read. But I think Vela’s sexuality could have been discovered in other ways and the assault seems out of place for the tone of the book.
Ultimately the biggest disappointment for me is how the mystery of the person pulling the strings is revealed and their motives are barely explored.
But while I was disappointed, it was an enjoyable and easy read and I have no doubt this will appeal to a lot of people.
Rape, death of animal,self-harm, suicidal ideation
Perfect for Fans of
Winter Orbit by Everina Maxwell, This Marvellous Light by Freya Marske.